WATCH | Jellyfishbot is an efficient collector of rubbish in water

07 July 2021 - 13:30 By Reuters

Tourists visiting the picturesque port at Cassis in southern France often witness an unedifying sight: plastic bags, discarded drinks bottles and even used surgical masks floating in the water among the boats in the marina.

The port has found a solution in the shape of a bright yellow, remote-controlled, electric-powered boat that weaves around the harbour sucking rubbish into a net it trails behind its twin hulls.

The boat, called Jellyfishbot, is about the size of a suitcase and can get into the corners and narrow spaces where rubbish tends to accumulate and are difficult for cleaners with nets to reach.

“It can go everywhere,” said Nicolas Carlesi, who has a PhD in undersea robotics and whose company, IADYS, created the boat.

It is not the only device of its kind. San Diego non-profit Clear Blue Sea is developing a prototype rubbish-collecting robot called “Fred”.

A marine technology firm based in the Netherlands, RanMarine, has developed a robot called the “Waste Shark” which has been deployed to clean up garbage in Rotterdam harbour.

Jellyfishbot is in operation in around 15 French ports and has been exported to countries including Singapore, Japan and Norway, according to Carlesi’s company. The firm recently launched an autonomous version.

A keen sailor and diver, Carlesi said he came up with the idea after noticing, whenever he spent leisure time in the water, how much rubbish bobbed in the water in ports.

“I thought, ‘Why not try to make this difficult and sometimes thankless task of picking up trash easier’? So we made this robot,” he said.